There are many people in my life (and no longer in it) that despite what they’ve done to me I forgive them for it. This is not because I’ve necessarily received an apology or even because I want something from them. In fact, I’ve reached a point in my life where I am so grateful for the people I have and I don’t feel an insatiable need to have more friends. I’m always up for meeting new people and while I am not closing myself off to possibility to making new friendships, I don’t feel the need to, but I digress.
I am not forgiving these people because they asked for it or because I want something, but for me. Forgiveness, to me, is not an act of forgetting what happened, but realizing that were all flawed, imperfect and thus likely to make mistakes. We are likely to do things out of our own selfishness, hurt, and ignorance that can hurt other people without realizing it for years down the line or thus at all. This is why reflection is important and why doing so has helped me to forgive. I’ve done things in my past and said things to people out of anger and hurt that I did not mean. I’ve done things when I was much younger that were a product of my own insecurities growing up, but does that condone or excuse what I did? Of course not. But realizing it, owning it, recognizing that it was wrong, and asking for forgiveness allows you to really discover a lot of things about yourself and others. It also shows maturity and growth, because it’s really hard to admit when you’re wrong for some people — hence why a lot of people don’t do it.
Pride can be such an ugly thing.
Once I really (and I mean really) reflected on what I did wrong, it was easier for me to forgive others. The same way that I repent and ask for forgiveness from others and from God is the same way that perhaps those that have hurt me have asked for forgiveness. Maybe they’ve reflected on their decisions and actions and would like to ask for forgiveness. I don’t know and to be honest, I really don’t not care for their apologies. I don’t need it, because I already know that they are flawed and are therefore more apt to making mistakes. I’m flawed. We’re all flawed. With that said, how can I expect forgiveness from God and from people I’ve hurt if I am still holding onto past pain? How can I expect the same forgiveness that I am not willing to dish out because I’m too busy holding onto past anger?
I’ve had to forgive some people that were the reasons behind some of the most traumatic experiences of my life. Lord knows how hard that was for me. But how could I move on with my life and help others through their stuff if I’m still holding onto that anger? How can I continue to grow and heal through my experiences if I’m allowing people that aren’t even a factor in my life take residency in my spirit? It’s not worth it.
I don’t know if you’re spiritual, but one thing that immediately helped me was praying about it and asking God to help me. I prayed and asked him to fill my heart with compassion for people that spite me and people that have hurt me. I prayed to God and asked him to be my strength and guide me through it, so that the process of forgiving these individuals would be a lot easier. God is bigger than any challenge I have, after all. It was definitely hard, but I had to remember that the same way I have held grudges for things done to me, someone else could do the same with me or God could do the same with me. But he doesn’t. He forgives me again and again, so why can’t I express that same compassion? Why can’t I turn the anger into indifference?
And that’s precisely what I did. With the grace and help of God, I became indifferent. I don’t hate nor do I love the people that have hurt me, but I forgive them. I pray for them, but I feel nothing in my heart for them. No hate nor love — just indifference.
Forgiveness is not for them. It’s for you. It’s for your own compassion. It’s for remembering that just as you are flawed and imperfect, so are those that have hurt you. It’s reminding yourself that hurt people tend to hurt people and that perhaps there are stories or situations that you are not privy to that could be provoking their behavior. Again, it does not condone it or make their behavior excusable or right. It just helps to fill that anger in your heart with compassion.
Remember, the opposite of hate it not love — it’s indifference. Work towards compassion and forgiveness and you’ll meet the “indifference stage” sooner than you think 🙂